EDITORIAL: Endless cycle for water users

It appears that Greater Vernon residents are damned if they do and damned if they don’t

It appears that Greater Vernon residents are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

Residents have accepted the challenge to conserve water put forward by Greater Vernon Water and the Okanagan Basin Water Board. Such a move is good for the environment, particularly in an arid environment such as ours. Turning off the taps also means lower water bills.

However, that’s the challenge.

With residents consuming less water, Greater Vernon Water is experiencing a reduction in revenue and that makes budgeting extremely difficult.

The projected revenue shortfall over the last three years was $3.2 million.

“From a conservation standpoint, it’s terrific news, but from a financial perspective, it’s terrible news,” said David Sewell, finance general manager.

And unlike businesses, the regional district can’t just cut back on spending when there is less money flowing in. Treatment of water is expensive and it must be constantly tested to meet the provincial quality guidelines. Of course, there is also a need to maintain infrastructure and put aside reserves for big ticket items like dams and spillways.

Considerable effort is also going into a master water plan which is being dictated by the Interior Health Authority.

As a result of the constant demand for money, Greater Vernon Water has to hike rates when decreased consumption negatively impacts revenue.

And when the rates climb, residents start using even less water, which ultimately leads to even  higher bills.

It’s a vicious cycle.